Everything You Need To Know About Cooking Okra

You can cook okra without it becoming slimy!

IMAGE Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay

Okra or lady fingers is the debatable vegetable in many dishes. While many dislike it, there are others who love this delicate-looking vegetable.    

It is found in a sinigang na baka recipe, in an Ilocos pinakbet, and can be the main vegetable in an adobong okra recipe. It's a vegetable that is commonly used in dishes in many parts of the world but is also avoided by many, too.  

The main reason why the okra is a vegetable to avoid could be because it can be slimy. When exposed to heat, the seeds in okra produce mucilage. This stuff is what makes it a valuable ingredient for some dishes. 

However, did you know there is a way to cook okra so that it's not slimy? There is! The best way to cook okra without making it slimy is to fry it. By frying okra, the hot oil sears the okra, preventing the mucilage from forming and oozing out of the vegetable making it slimy. What you get is wonderfully browned okra that has developed better flavor without the slime.

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Since it's no longer in danger of becoming slimy, you can toss these chunks into your favorite dishes and enjoy its unique crunch and flavor at its best. This might be what you want to do even if you're making soup dishes with okra such as sinigang.  

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Here are a few other ways to cook and enjoy okra:

Photo by Majoy Siason
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1 Steam it whole but trim the stem. 

The dried-out stem can be trimmed so you expose the fresh stem. You may want to cut it off completely as many deem this part inedible and a little tough but some will leave it on. Either way, this is a great way to prevent the okra from getting soggy as well as slimy. 

One of the best ways to cook okra is to simply steam it. Boiling it will just leave it vulnerable to becoming soggy so steaming is a great way of preparing it. Steam it until it's just tender to the bite with a little crunch left before tossing it with some delicious sauces or serving it as a side dish. 

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2 Add it to stir fries or grill it.  

When you're adding okra to stir-fried dishes and it's chopped up, remember that the smaller you chop it up, the more slime it can and will produce. To avoid that, cut the okra into medium-sized pieces instead to minimize that. You can cook it first, set it aside, and add it in at the last minute just to make sure that it's cooked perfectly without any sign of the mucilage that many people avoid. 

Want to elevate your dish? Grilling okra, as well as the other vegetables, is another way of avoiding the dreaded ooze of the okra. Plus, grilling it will give it a much savored charred taste that can make your pinakbet a winning meal.  

Photo by Patrick Martires
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3 Use it as a thickener in soups. 

If you're making sinigang or any soup that you want to thicken up slightly, you're going to want to choose the right ingredients. For thickening up the soup, you may want to use gabi but we say, why not take advantage of the okra's thickening properties? Okra is not just for making your food interesting to eat but it's actually used for at its best for its ability to thicken soups and stews. It's one of the many reasons why it's an important ingredient in the dish, the gumbo

If you are making sinigang but can't find any gabi to help you thicken the soup, reach for a few pieces of okra instead.  

You can find a way to learn to love okra! If you are not that averse to giving this humble vegetable a chance, you may just discover that it's a delicious and nutritious vegetable that you can look forward to eating. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Clubto get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating! 

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!


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